• Donald Tetto

The Carnegie Foundation is widely respected for how it classifies institutions of higher education. Since 1973, its classifications have helped students and families seeking a particular type of college to attend, and provided the basis by which colleges and universities are compared for rankings such as those done by U.S. News & World Report.

Until now, the Carnegie Foundation had strictly classified institutions of higher education according to characteristics such as the type of degrees they offered, their size and setting, and the profile of students who are enrolled in them. Southwestern, for example, is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a small, four-year, selective residential college.

Earlier this year, the foundation announced that it would create a new elective classification to recognize institutions that collaborate with their larger communities, whether these be local, state/regional, national or global. College and universities were invited to apply for the new classification and to provide evidence of their community engagement. Within the new category, schools could be recognized for curricular engagement, outreach and partnerships, or both. Southwestern was recognized for both.

In order to qualify for the new category, schools were required to document that community engagement is indicated as a priority in their mission statement and marketing materials, and that they have an office to support community engagement.

Southwestern was one of only three colleges and universities in Texas to meet the qualifications for the new category. The others are Richland College in Dallas and Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

Southwestern’s community outreach projects include sponsoring an Upward Bound program for high school students and the Operation Achievement program for middle school students.

Last year more than 60 percent of Southwestern students reported doing volunteer work in the community - more than twice the national average of about 30 percent. These students contributed an estimated 22,500 hours of service to the community. One of the most notable current community service projects is the construction of a Habitat for Humanity house in Georgetown. Southwestern students spearheaded the fundraising effort for the house and are now building it.

Many faculty members at Southwestern also incorporate community-based learning projects into their classes. For example, students in Abby Dings’ Spanish “Intermediate Oral & Written Expression” course are required to spend a minimum of 10 hours in the community using Spanish. Students in this class have tutored students in GISD’s Migrant Education Program, taught adult ESL classes at The Caring Place, and served as translators for several events held at the Dell Diamond. Education students in Sherry Adrian’s “Survey of Exceptionalities” class and Alicia Moore’s “Schools, Society and Diversity” class are required to volunteer with agencies that serve children with special needs. And students in Richard Osbaldiston’s Psychology “Research Methods I” class have conducted studies for several local agencies, including Mothers Milk Bank of Austin and the Williamson County Coalition on Underage Drinking.

“This classification by the Carnegie Foundation affirms the priority of community engagement at Southwestern,” said President Jake B. Schrum. “We are honored to be the only private university in Texas to qualify for this classification and one of only 28 private universities nationally to be selected by this very prestigious foundation. This recognition also confirms the perception that Southwestern is a university that engages minds and transforms lives.”

For more information on the Carnegie Classifications, visit www.carnegiefoundation.org.

Southwestern University is a selective, nationally recognized undergraduate liberal arts college with an enrollment of 1,260 students. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in Texas. For more information on Southwestern, visit www.southwestern.edu.


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